Today is the 150th birthday of Nikola Tesla. Here is an attempt to put in one place as much as can be found about the celebrations of his birthday and birth-year, the information about Tesla, the mentions in the media and on blogs, etc. I will keep updating this post throughout the day so, please, if you know of something I missed, or if you have seen (or written yourself) a blogpost related to Tesla, please let me know by e-mail or in the comments so I can check it out and perhaps include it in this post.
Tesla’s birthday in the media
A good article in Globe and Mail: “Lighting up the world – again”.
From fishing rods to death rays: the man who invented the 20th Century
Remembering ‘the man who lit the world’
Tesla’s theories remain current
In Balkans, sparks still fly on Tesla anniversary
After years of neglect, Nikola Tesla is ‘in’ in Croatia
B92: Tesla celebrated today
Reuters: Croats, Serbs unite to hail Tesla’s genius
B92: Tesla belongs to all of humankind
Buzz in the blogosphere
Tesla has a MySpace page which has a blog which is informative, e.g., about the unveiling of the new Tesla monument on Niagara Falls.
Archy wrote not one but two posts today, both substantive and both with a personal touch: Five million Teslas and Happy birthday, Nick.
Nick Anthis takes a look at MRIs roots in Tesla’s inventions.
Madison Guy recommends another book that has Tesla as a character (OK, I am going to put that one on my Amazon wish list as well) and notes a street in his town.
The Greenbelt marks the anniversary.
Eva of Easternblot marks the birthday and suggests we all watch this movie scene.
Neural Gourmet has a movie.
Tyler wrote a column.
This guy from Belgrade clears up Tesla’s nationality. Bozinovic does the same: Using a genius for ethnic defamation
Alex, Elayne, Kyle, Michael, Eduardo, Sini and PZ join in the celebration.
Basil, Steinn, Monado, Mister Spark, Babbler, Bob and Runner-D join in the celebration.
Beyond Self-Interest, or, Some Initial Thoughts on Re-imagining the Possibilities of the Open Source Movement:
Edison’s biography canbe understood as an example of the paucity of such myths. His patenting of Tesla’s inventions is a fine example of the problematic history of the legal minefield of capitalist self-interest. How different would our ideas of energy be if these two had collaborated rather than competed?
Here is a cool animation.
Tess is a dog named after Nikola Tesla. And this cat’s name is Tesla
Whit and Adam went to Niagara Falls and took a picture of Tesla’s monument.
Dan Ford is a big fan of Tesla and in this post provides some excellent links and quotes.
My Hero Project
Do you want to go to Tesla’s birthday party in Vermont? It is at this guy’s place.
World Tales: Nikola Tesla Airport
Jason Bellows finds it Damn Interesting
The Sidekick is a fan. And here is another fan and another one.
Strange Culture did a little research.
More links here and here.
Celebrations and Events
There are many events scheduled for this year and this week in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Australia, Canada and the USA. Let’s start with Belgrade:
On the 9th, delegation of the Serbian Government and the guests will visit the Tesla Museum. At 4pm there will be the opening ceremony of the “150 years of Nikola Tesla” exhibit in the building of the Belgrade City Council. At 6:30pm, the premiere of the opera “Violet Fire” is scheduled.
Central event in Belgrade will be a ceremony in Sava Center on the 10th at 8pm, sponsored by the Serbian Government. As guests, there will be many scientists, politicians from around the world and representatives of many political, social, cultural, religious, scientific and business organizations from Serbia and abroad.
Also on the 10th, there will be unveiling of the new monument of Nikola Tesla at 3pm at the Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport. The monument will be unveiled despite the negative recommendations of two separate art committees who rejected the statue as extremely poorely done and ugly.
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica will host a banquet at 6pm in the Federation Palace.
On Tuesday the 11th at 9:30am, National Bank of Serbia will promote and put into distribution new coins and postage stamps. On Kalemegdan at 9pm, there will be a performance “Octet for violin, cello, string quartet, two computers and two Tesla coils”. On the same spot at 10pm, there will be a musical spectacle “Along with Tesla’s Thoughts”.
On 9th on the Republic Square, the Pinocchio Theater will put a puppet play “Fairy Tale About Electricity” and at the same place on the 10th and 11th, from 12 noon till 9pm, audience will be able to see the “Radio Light Cluster” show.
In Novi Sad, on July 11th at noon, the new book, “Tesla’s Correspondence” will be promoted in Matica Srpska.
Among the dignitaries expected to be present at various events, there will be the European comissioner for the Environment and the European comissioner for Science.
Eurocenter gallery in Belgrade has an art exhibit Tesla – in paintings by Serbian artists.
In September, there will be a scientific conference in Belgrade about Tesla. Radio-Television of Serbia will air a number of science education programs as well as shows about the life and work of Tesla.
The Techonology Fair at the Belgrade Fairgrounds last month was also Tesla-themed.
In Croatia, there was a scientific conference about Tesla. There is supposed to be a big event in his birthplace Smiljan as well. Please let me know more so I can post here.
From an article in Scotsman (subscription only):
“One reason for Tesla’s transformation from non-person to national hero in Croatia is the European Union, which wants the country to show gestures of reconciliation toward its Serbs as a condition for joining the prosperous club of democracies.
The government has spent $8.75 million turning his house into a museum, and the presidents of Croatia and Serbia will come together to dedicate it Monday on the anniverary of his birth.
On Friday a new statue of Tesla was unveiled in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, and two more are planned.
Parliament has declared 2006 to be Tesla’s year, and his motto – “equally proud of my Serb origin and my Croatian homeland” – has become a mantra. A recent poll chose him as Croatia’s “greatest son.”
An art exhibit in Zagreb reminds Croatians that only recently they were trampling Tesla’s memory, and pokes fun at their “new political correctness.” One exhibit is a design for a Tesla monument made from the rubble of the real one.
There is supposed to be a new monument unveiled at Niagara Falls. Any other events in Canada, Australia and the US? If oyu know more, let me know so I can update.
July 10th of every year is supposed to be the Energy Independence Day.
Busts and Monuments
A bust of Tesla was recently unveiled at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. It is one of many copies of a bust made by 3d and 4th graders and given to various US Universities so Tesla does not remain forgotten. Please click on that last link and keep on clicking “Next” at the bottom of each page to read all 16 pages of an incredible story.
A new monument for Tesla has just been unveiled in Zagreb, Croatia.
Also new monuments in Belgrade, Niagara Falls and, I believe, in Smiljan. Anywhere else?
Monuments of Tesla already exist. The Ivan Mestrovic statue is in front of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Belgrade and an exact replika is at Niagara Falls.
Tesla’s legacy in the Balkans
If you ask people on the street to name the greatest scientist of all times, most will pick Einstein. Depending on the longitude and latitude where you are standing, some passers-by may instead go for Newton, Darwin, Curie or Hawking. In all parts of ex-Yugoslavia, the only answer is Nikola Tesla. He is the “greatest Serb in the history of the world”, he is on postage stamps and on money. There are schools and streets named after him in every decent-sized city. He has no competition there. Not even Rudjer Boscovic, Andreja Milankovic and Josif Pancic can come close, let alone Einstein.
Here is an interesting article on the fate of Tesla’s legacy in Croatia:
Tesla, electricity pioneer, is symbol of division and reconciliation in his native land:
SMILJAN, Croatia – The world knows Nikola Tesla as a pioneer of electrical power. But in his native Balkans, he is a symbol of ethnic strife. Now the 150th anniversary of his birth is serving as a force for healing.
As an ethnic Serb born in Croatia, Tesla’s memory became a subject of bitter contention in the 1990s when the breakup of Yugoslavia triggered a war between Serbs and Croats that killed thousands.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, his statue stands at Niagara Falls in tribute to his role in bringing electricity to America. But his statue in Croatia was blown up and the house where he grew up fell into ruin. His portrait, which had graced a Yugoslav bank note, was left off the new Croatian currency.
The crowning irony for war-battered Croatia is that hundreds of villages around Smiljan, his native town have no electricity.
Most definitely read the rest of the article – it’s quite eye-opening.
A couple of months ago, Belgrade Airport (for decades known as Surchin, after the village next to which it was built) has been renamed the Nikola Tesla Airport – a much better and long-lasting choice than naming it after a politician who may get forgotten or go out of favour.
I have already written about Violet Fire, the new multi-media opera opening in Belgrade on the 9th.
A Wilderness of Monkeys discovered four different operas about Tesla:Tesla: Lightning in His Hand, Tesla, Nikola Tesla and of course, the currently most exciting one – Violet Fire.
Andrei Codrescu talked about Violet Fire on NPR back in March.
Brilliant (pdf) is also a play about Tesla.
University Theaters at UWA (Western Australia) is putting up another play about Tesla.
Handsome Family wrote a song Tesla’s Hotel Room which appears in their latest CD. And of course there is a band named Tesla.
Prestige is going to be the big Tesla event this year. Tesla is played by David Bowie.
And there is another movie project. Can someone tell me more about it?
Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius by Marc J. Seifer and Tesla : Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney are two best biographies of Tesla.
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla is a must-read for every Tesla-file.
Tesla, a 1956 book reprinted in 2003 by the Tesla Museum is a heavy volume containing a lot of Tesla patents, lectures, articles and documents.
Tesla appears as a supporting character in Prestige by Christopher Priest, but will likely play a more central role in the movie produced after the book.
All of the above books are also on my wish list. Beware, there are also books about Tesla that are bad, really bad, written by pseudoscientific quacks!
As soon as I heard about the Five Fists Of Science, I pre-ordered it. I remembered it once I got an e-mail form Amazon that the book is being shipped. I promptly read it and reviewed it.
Jennifer Ouliette wrote a much better review of it. And here is another review of Five Fists of Science. And this one is hopefully fothcoming.
Tesla also appears in Moon Palace by Paul Auster.
Tesla Museum in Belgrade is the best resource on him in the world. You can take a virtual tour of the museum to see more.
Tesla’s page in Wikipedia is pretty good and has, on the bottom, a nice collection of links to other good resources.
Tesla Memorial Society webpage appears not to have been updated in a while, but archives contain some interesting stuff. Tesla Society appears to be better.
Here is another decent webpage about Tesla.
An 1899 interview with Tesla.
Frank Germano’s website is an excellent resource as well.
Tesla as a person
Dr.Zarko Trebjesanin, professor of psychology at the University of Belgrade has written a book about Tesla’s personality which just came out in Belgrade. He also wrote a short summary in a Belgrade newspaper, which I translated for you here.
An interesting biography
Here is another look at him as a person: Getting Acquainted with the Famous Nikola Tesla
This is more about Mark Twain, but Tesla and his lab figure prominently at the end of the article.
Tesla and Pigeons
I have written before about the special connection between Tesla and the pigeons in Bryant Park so go there for more links, interesting facts, images and art. If you like that particular painting, you can get T-shirts, mugs and other stuff with it here.
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Wikipedia has a list of Tesla’s Patents.
You can also watch this movie (42 minutes) about the Niagara hydroelectric plant:
There is a lot of Tesla in the history of radio and the history of moving pictures.
Pseudoscience in Tesla’s name
This is interesting:
The order specialised in an unusual mixture of avantgarde technology and magical ritual partly based, or so it claimed in the pages of its official organ Saturn Gnosis, on the theories of Nikola Tesla. Aller himself had not postulated a new theory; in his article A Fairytale of Electricity, published on September 9, 1915 in Manufacturers’ Record, Tesla wrote: “The records, though scanty, are of a nature to fill us with conviction that a few initiated, at least, had a deeper knowledge of amber phenomena. To mention one, Moses was undoubtedly a practical and skillful electrician far in advance of his time. The Bible describes precisely, and minutely, arrangements constituting a machine in which electricity was generated by friction of air against silk curtains, and stored in a box constructed like a condenser. It is very plausible to assume that the sons of Aaron were killed by a high-tension discharge, and that the vestal fires of the Romans were electrical.”
A Fairytale of Electricity? Was it a parody? Can someone find this article? Update – Well, I just did – here it is. Do YOU think it should be taken seriously? No, I didn’t think so….
There is a thread on Internet Infidels about “Death Rays” and what Tesla could and could not do at the time.
Did Tesla make an electric car with a mysterious source of power? For the gullible only.
Quotes from Tesla
I have collected some of Tesla’s quotes in three previous posts:
Probably the best resource is the page of The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project.
This blogger named his LiveJournal Wardenclyffe Tower.
Tesla electric car
Tesla Roadster is creating quite a buzz – too many links to include all here, so check out Roxanne for a taste.
N&O: Inventing vroom with virtue